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RISMEDIA, January 21, 2010—The Fair Mortgage Collaborative (FMC), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fair and safe mortgages, has announced the launch of the “Fair Mortgage Cost Check,” a tool that will allow home buyers to quickly and privately determine if mortgage pricing – including interest rates and closing costs – is significantly out of line with the local marketplace. The Fair Mortgage Cost Check encourages consumers to go beyond just looking at interest rates to the fees that can be inflated and needlessly cost thousands of extra dollars.

According to the company, U.S. home buyers will have free and private access to unbiased information right down to their local zip code level about average mortgage loan prices, including interest rates and closing costs. The new tool is part of the ongoing campaign to promote “fair and safe mortgages” in the wake of the twin crises in predatory lending and mortgage foreclosures.

Howard Banker, executive director, Fair Mortgage Collaborative, said: “We hope that consumers will use this highly-localized information for home mortgage decision making in the same way that they use GPS or MapQuest to plan a trip. Responsible lenders will have nothing to fear from empowering consumers with more and better information. However, this is decidedly bad news for the new generation of predatory lenders who are abusing consumers in the pricing of mortgages, including the interest rate and closing costs. The Fair Mortgage Collaborative was created to help encourage fair and safe mortgage lending practices and also to help restore home buyer confidence, which had been shredded by predatory lending abuses and the many horror stories associated with the mortgage foreclosure crisis.”

Jeff Lazerson, president of Mortgage Grader, the company that manages the Fair Mortgage Cost Check said: “What keeps mortgage shoppers up at night is an overwhelming sense of confusion, fear and general mistrust of lenders. So much is at risk for consumers if bad decisions are made. And there are so many difficult choices to make, including a daunting loan product menu, even in today’s scaled-back mortgage market. What the Fair Mortgage Collaborative is doing today is giving consumers a way to cut through all that confusion and make better and informed decisions.”

According to the company, the new FMC tool maintains real-time loan pricing with all standard risk-based (agency and government) pricing down to the zip code level, which goes far beyond what is available from any other service. No other tool of this sort provides zip code level specifics and none includes settlement costs, which is an area that is increasingly being exploited by some lenders.

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